My first experience with percussion was seeing and being inspired by my school orchestra at the age of 12. I knew I needed something else to go alongside my piano playing, which was my main instrument at the time. It was an inexplicable feeling but as soon as I saw the percussion section I knew this was the family I belonged to”.
Evelyn Glennie is the first person in history to successfully create and sustain a full-time career as a solo percussionist, performing worldwide with the greatest conductors, orchestras, and artists. She fondly recalls having played the first percussion concerto in the history of The Proms at the Albert Hall in 1992, which paved the way for orchestras around the world to feature percussion concerti. She had the honour of a leading role in the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. “Playing at an event like that was proof that music really affects all of us, connecting us in ways that the spoken word cannot”.
Evelyn’s solo recordings, which now exceed 30 CDs, are as diverse as her career on-stage. ‘Shadow Behind the Iron Sun’ and ‘Sound Spirits’ continue to be bestselling albums that amply demonstrate her brilliant improvisational skills.
A leading commissioner of new works for solo percussion, Evelyn has more than 200 pieces to her name from many of the world’s most eminent composers. She believes this has been crucial to her success as a solo percussionist. “It’s important that I continue to commission and collaborate with a diverse range of composers whilst recognising the young talent coming through”. A double GRAMMY award winner and BAFTA nominee Evelyn is in demand as a composer in her own right and records high quality music for film, television and music library companies. The film ‘Touch the Sound’ and her enlightening TED speech remain key testimonies to her approach to sound-creation.
With over 90 international awards to date, including the Polar Music Prize, a Damehood and the Companion of Honour, Evelyn continues to inspire and motivate people from all walks of life. Her masterclasses and consultations are designed to guide the next generation.
To this day, Evelyn continues to invest in realising her vision – to Teach the World to Listen – while looking to open a centre that embodies her mission: “to improve communication and social cohesion by encouraging everyone to discover new ways of listening. We want to inspire, to create, to engage and to empower”.
Michael Jefry Stevens
Over the past 40 years Pianist/Composer Michael Jefry Stevens has been associated with some of the most important figures in modern jazz. Beginning with his first CD release in 1991 as a member of Mark Whitecage's Liquid Time Group, Mr. Stevens has been in the forefront of the NYC and international improvised music scene. Between 1988-1990 he co-led the now legendary "Mosaic Sextet" with Dave Douglas. This group included Mark Feldman on violin, Michael Rabinowitz on bassoon, and the rhythm section of Harvey Sorgen on drums and Joe Fonda on bass. Their "Today This Moment" CD release on Konnex Records and re-release on GM Recordings is considered one of the classic modern jazz recordings of the 1990s and was voted one of the best 1000 jazz recordings by the 2011 Penguin Guide to Jazz. This rhythm section went on to become the nucleus for the Fonda/Stevens Group. Since the quartet's inception in 1992, the Fonda/Stevens Group has released 14 CDS, repeatedly toured Europe and is one of the most successful working modern jazz groups on the international scene. Mr. Stevens also began a very fruitful and fulfilling relationship with Leo Records with his duo "Haiku" CD release in 1994, featuring Mark Feldman on violin. These piano/violin improvisations proved to be a pivotal link between Mr. Stevens’ work in both the composed and improvised music worlds. Mr. Stevens has currently released nine CDS on Leo Records, including "Elements" with bassist Dominic Duval, and "Twelve Improvisations" with the Fonda/Stevens Group. To date he has released over 90 CDS.
Michael Jefry Stevens has composed over 340 works for various ensembles, including big band, string quartet, music for voice, music for solo instruments, various small groups and his latest ensemble, the 15 piece Mountain Chamber Jazz Ensemble. Mr. Stevens was the Margaret Lee Crofts Fellow at "The MacDowell Colony" in the summer of 2000, received 2nd prize in the prestigious Monaco International Jazz Composition in 1998, and was a composer fellow at the Centrum Arts Colony in Port Townsend, WA in June 2005. In 2007 he received a Professional Development Support Grant from the Tennessee Art's Commission. He has been Composer-in-Residence at Virginia Intermont College 1999 where he scored music in collaboration with the dance department and was composer-in-residence at the Oxford Music Academy Summer workshop in 2002. In 2009 Mr. Stevens was named a Steinway Performing Artist, the first ever for the City of Memphis. In 2016 he was voted "Best Composer" in Western North Carolina by the readers of the Mountain Xpress and received a "Regional Project Artist Grant" from the Toe River Arts Council. He currently resides in Black Mountain, NC. He has been on the performing artist roster of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts since 1998. In 1999 Mr. Stevens began the Conference Call Quartet, featuring his partner of many years, bassist Joe Fonda, in collaboration with German saxophonist Gebhard Ullmann and Dieter Ulrich on drums. This quartet has released 7 cd's, with an 8th CD scheduled for release in early 2018.
More recent projects include the "Core-tet" featuring Dame Evelyn Glennie on percussion, Serbian violist Szilard Mezei and Danish Guitarist Jon Hemmersam, the "Eastern Boundary" featuring Hungarian drummer Balazs Bagyi and Hungarian saxophonist Mihaly Borbely, his partnership with New Orleans horn man and vocalist Brian "Breeze" Cayolle, and the "Generations Quartet" featuring saxophonist Oliver Lake.
Michael Jefry Stevens is truly a believer in the global music community and a vocal exponent of an international music. He is a member of the IASJ (International Association of Schools of Jazz), ISIM (International Society of Improvised Music), SCI (the Society of Composers), and the AAPF (Asheville Area Piano forum).